ASPO-USA: Support for Global Energy Flow modelling and a Net Energy database

One of the breakout session working groups at the ASPO-USA conference focused on the need to have greater understanding of all Energy Flows within and between countries on a Global scale and to have greater understanding of Net Energy within all energy production systems. Within the limited time available at the breakout meeting the focus was on the Net Energy topic and it is therefore Net Energy that is the focus of this short post. ASPO-USA directors Dick Lawrence and Ron Swenson led the session.

Professor Cutler Cleveland outlined work in progress at Boston University where they have already begun to compile a Net Energy database. A recent guest post by Professor Cleveland on The Oil Drum presented a compilation of Net Energy data for wind. Professor Cleveland also introduced the Encyclopedia of Earth that is a new WIKI based collection of reviewed articles pertaining to the entire Earth Domain. Professor Cleveland proposed that a subsection of this encyclopedia might be dedicated to Net Energy.

The ASPO-USA working group resolved to:

1. Compile a register of professional expertise and credentials among those who attended this break out session in order to establish how those who attended may be able to support this effort.

2. To define the objectives of ASPO-USA in relation to this Net Energy project.

3. To help define an "industry standard" procedure for measuring and documenting Net Energy.

4. To help form an international panel of experts on Net Energy who may both contribute to defining the industry standard procedure described in #3 (above) and who may also act as editors to entries made on The Encyclopaedia of Earth.

5. To facilitate the public promotion of the Net Energy database and in this regard BLOGS like The Oil Drum may have a key role to play.

The subject of Global Energy Flows will be discussed in greater detail at subsequent meetings of this ASPO-USA working group. The work in progress on Net Energy will provide one of the inputs to the higher goal of creating a Global Energy Flow dynamic simulation.

The view from Cry Wolf

To quote Professor Cleveland "The economic, environmental, social and geopolitical significance of the concepts and implications of Net Energy have never been greater. Yet there is great confusion about every aspect of the concept, and more bad "information" than good. As a result, the impact of Net Energy issues on personal decisions and policy making is nil."

Reliable understanding of Net Energy is in my opinion, fundamentally important to the future prosperity of the Global economy as we become increasingly dependent upon non-fossil fuel energy sources. Consider this, if an energy delivery system has an ERoEI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) close to 1, then our economy will spend all its energy on energy production - not leaving any surplus energy for food production, manufacturing, construction, transportation etc. If the ERoEI is close to 2, then energy delivery systems will spend 50% of their working lives repaying the energy used in their construction and so on. TOD contributor Nate Hagens has outlined these principles in relation to a theoretical community. Maximising ERoEI within our energy production systems will maximise the Net Energy available for society to consume. Our future prosperity, therefore, is inextricably linked to investing in the most energy efficient energy production systems - and this can only happen if the ERoEI of different energy production systems is understood for a range of operating conditions.

In energy production systems with ERoEI less than 10, the energy efficiency plummets towards a Net Energy sink as ERoEI approaches unity. The future prosperity of the World economy will be dependent upon building new energy infrastructure with optimal ERoEI and Net Energy return.

In the past, understanding of Net Energy has not seemed to be important. Early oil and gas production wells had ERoEI ratios > 50. In energy terms, this has been essentially free energy - a 5000% profit on energy invested and wasting this resource has not seemed to matter to mankind. Much of this energy profit has been harvested by national governments by way of taxation both directly and indirectly. Companies and individuals have prospered with "limitless" supplies of virtually free energy and that prosperity has driven the World economy upwards and our climate close to the edge of collapse. The society we know - schools, universities, hospitals, transportation infrastructures, defence, social security and care for the elderly - is all founded upon this fossil fuel bounty.

By way of a personal example, I have been engaged in dialogue with politicians in Scotland concerning their enthusiasm for wind energy and building a hydrogen-based economy. The compilation of wind energy data compiled by Professor Cleveland points to a significant Net Energy ratio for wind in the region 15 to 20. This is approaching contemporary values for fossil fuels making wind energy extremely competitive in Net Energy terms. The disadvantage of wind is intermittency and the relatively "low energy density" of the electricity that is produced. However, with the abundance of Net Energy, my feeling is that the power management and energy storage issues may be more easily resolved - if for no other reason that it will be permissible to "spill" some energy in achieving stable grid power.

Cry Wolf
aka Euan Mearns TOD UK Contributor

note that I will shortly start posting under my proper name
Thanks to Dick Lawrence, Ron Swenson, Cutler Cleveland and Nate Hagens for providing supporting information for this post. Readers should also note that Nate is the TOD expert on Net Energy and will be posting more detailed articles on this subject in the near future.
Thanks Eaun,

One thing that is sometimes overlooked in net energy analysis is liebigs law of the minimum.  If Peak Oil is nigh, then energy will likely be the limiting factor, but as planetary ecological systems become more strained and our waste products exceed the absorption capacity, analysis of new energy technologies will have to incorporate other inputs/outputs than straight BTUs. What if water becomes more important than energy - then do we have Energy Return on Water Invested?

What if we design a great energy technology with high EROI of 20:1, yet it has triple the greenhouse gas emissions and depletes the soil. Multicriteria analysis, with particular attention to externalities, somehow needs to be incorporated into net energy analysis. And that is  one thing that both EROI and standard financial ROI have in common.

Nate, my understanding is that setting system boundaries is one of the issues the proposed ASPO committee on Net Energy experts will consider and define.  All energy production systems have "externalities".  Nuclear cooling water can warm up river water, U mining has a range of environmental hazards and of course there is the waste disposal issues.  We need a way of adding all that up.

Dual cycle nat gas power plants are often promoted on the basis of their super heat conversion efficiency.  But the utilities may conveniently forget to add in the energy costs of gas discovery, liquification, transportation, regasification before it reaches the boilers.

Bio fuels as you know have a wide range of potential externalities - water use, soil depletion, transportation, monocultures etc.  That's one reason why I liked the talk by Milton Maciel on Brazilian sugar cane at ASPO so much - I still think we should try and get a post on that - because it captured a technlogy that delivered high ERoEI but in an ecologically sustainable way.

Many of the externalities are "hidden" costs to society and they are often environemntal in nature.  Given our dual concerns for energy depletion and environmental sustainability, I believe that a "whole system" method of accounting EroEI + external costs is vital to seeing the best path forward.

"What if we design a great energy technology with high EROI of 20:1, yet it has triple the greenhouse gas emissions and depletes the soil."

That, by the very definition of "great", would not only not be a great technology but simply unsustainable.

In the real world one always has to deal with multiple problems at the same time, yet, it is not only technically correct to seperate concerns but also necessary. The reason why you are not allowed to dispose of your motor oil in the sewage is that the water treatment plant can't deal with it.

For very much the same reasons nuclear power plants are not allowed to ship nuclear waste in carboard boxes with the mail.

Right now global awareness is growing that disposing of CO2 in the atmosphere is just as bad as spilling oil or releasing radioactivity once you get to the Gton/year quantities. The mechanisms to deal with that are the same as with the motor oil and the nuclear waste: laws and regulations.  

Just because you can make up a worse scenario in your mind than exists in reality, real problem solvers will not have to change their strategies. And one of them is seperation of concerns, which starts at the analysis level and then continues on the political one.

And I applaud the folks that are trying to get net energy analysis back into the policy debates, as it was in the 1970s.  There are hundreds of millions of dollars chasing renewable and alternative energy technologies, but very little (if any) money looking at a global systems view of our energy balance sheet, and future assets and liabilities.

Of course, how does one make money doing that....?

Nate, as you know I'm pretty new to this - first introduction to the concept of ERoEI was about 6 months ago when I read Richard Heinberg's Party book. On reading that I saw immediately how important the concept was, and believe our future monetary systems will be linked to energy trading.

I do not believe that most of our politicians and decision makers have the ability to grasp that notion - that an energy production system may seem "profitable" in finance terms simply because it is subsidised by energy produced from a more efficient energy production system.

I also beleive that we need to give equal weight to efficient energy use - and there we need to have a clear understanding of what is efficient and what is not.  For example, it is easy to claculate that hanging clothes out side to dry is better than popping them into a tumble drier - or is it?  You need to have space available outside for a clothes rope - and what is the energy cost or providing that?

I believe that with the correct choice of energy production systems (that may vary from region to region) combined with efficient energy use - then we (Mankind) have nothing to worry about - there's no problem here that $10 billion won't solve....

The modelling project sounds like an interesting one.

My biggest concern is timing. If I understood the preliminarly discussion at the ASPO meeting correctly, the idea is to determine what kind of detailed (country by country) model is needed, find two or three individuals with modelling expertise to work on this, and have a finished product in two or three years. (Correct me if I am wrong on this -  I went to a different breakout session.)

Based on this assumed timing, it seems like the output would not be available until about 2009. If peak oil does not occur until 2010 to 2015, this timing might be OK, but does not give much time for mitigation.

There is a distinct possibility, however, that 2005 will prove to be peak oil year. EIA data that came out October 31, 2006, shows the following average production amounts:

Average production - All Liquids - Data set t14

2005 year - 84,411
2006 YTD through August - 84,303

Average production - Crude oil plus lease condensate - 11c

2005 year - 73,554
2006 YTD through August - 73,421

If these patterns continue to hold, 2005 could prove to be the year of highest production. By 2009, we could possibly be four years post-peak.

Because of the close timing of the peak and the need for mitigation, it would seem like we should be making a real effort to publicize any findings that are helpful early on. For example, if, in the course of building the model we discover helpful information about biofuels, we would want to publicize this information as soon as possible. It might even be worthwhile building a simpler model parallel to the full model, in the hopes of developing useful information more quickly.

there's no problem here that $10 billion won't solve....

What Cry Wolf says is true.  I suspect that some financial and / or human crisis will be required to kick start a genuine action plan.

If there is one thing I have learned from reading TOD over the past few month's is that many of the energy solutions are there - too many solutions perhaps, and we lack the knowledge to be able to pick the right selection for our optimal future.

Personally I don't beleive we are past peak oil, even though UK oil production is going down the tubes.  The recent down trend in Global production is in my opinion demand driven, and is a correction from an over-extended position of the last year or two.  Only when demand (and price) pick up again will we know if 2005 was the peak year.  My bets are on 2011 / 12.

It does not matter much when the peak year is because the peak will be broad. For the same reason there will be no serious crisis. There will be a learning curve during which people will adjust to rising energy costs until enough available technologies become competitive and politically supported.

We can see this already happening in Europe and some of the states in the US. The changes will be gradual and kickstart plans, like the mobilization of the US in WW II, will not be required.

Everyone with a home can become energy independent at the cost of 50 cents per kWh, tops. People without a home can just wait for the utility companies to raise their cost by a few cents. We might see a gas tax of up to a dollar a gallon. Big deal, not.

People will bitch and roll their eyes. Then they will discover that nobody listens and that eye-rolling hurts. They will stop both and simply pay the transition cost.

By the time our children have children the world will look different and nobody will mind the blue-grey color of solar roofs.

An example of a simpler model might be one which includes only the USA, or only the USA, Mexico, and Canada. From a trading standpoint, it is not clear how much of the rest of the world we can count on five or ten years from now.

If we started with USA, Mexico, and Canada, it would be easier to include variables such as water supply, global warming, food production, and natural gas supply. It may also be easier to explain to legislators.

The organization is ASPO-USA, so a USA focus for at least a preliminary model might make sense.  

Net energy analysis can apply to 1) society as a whole (are we increasing or decreasing the amount of quality energy provided to non-energy sectors of society?) and 2) as a comparison metric to compare different proposed energy harvesting technologies on a biophysical basis.

On the former, one thing that is often overlooked in the discussion of net energy, and in my opinion is largely disregarded by net energy detractors is that modern society is built on highly concentrated energy and most alternative forms  are more diffuse in nature.

In other words, energy quality, an important component of net energy analysis, will someday switch over from electricity to liquid fuel being more highly valued and scarce (unless we quickly switch to electrified transport).  Low EROI biofuels and non-upgraded wind and solar dont have the oomph to operate our current infrastructure, unless they are concentrated and upgraded, which at each stage undergoes an energy loss. So, although the graphic is dated, our task is to move the renewable blue boxes upward, using technology and the depleting blue boxes, while gradually moving the red boxes downward


It seems the problem is that modern society survives on the spread between efficiency of production and efficiency of use - an energy profit margin so to speak.

However, to carry the analogy one step further, I am not sure that the highly concentrated energy use that modern society is built on is a "fixed cost" or fixed variable.

Modern society's wasteful approach to energy may not be an integral element to modern society, but rather a byproduct of historical cheap energy. Just like we never had to consider net energy with 50+ EROEI resources available, we never had to consider the efficiency of our energy use at a system level.

I have noted before that I believe that "conservation" is a crucial element of the eventual solution, but that there is no viable mechanism for making it happen aside from price. The diminishing net energy of future resources seems certain to have an impact on the cost of energy. This will lead to a reduction in use.  If the use is wasteful, then the impact does not have to be entirely negative.

It seems reasonable to consider certain energy consumptive lifestyles as dependant on peak oil and hence doomed. I am sure that the people in wealthy and soon to be wealthy countries could and will eliminate massive amounts of energy from food, transportation, and other activities.

The EROEI line on Cry Wolf's chart makes it clear that marginal suppliers of net energy, such as corn ethanol are not consistent with a lifestyle that we could be expected to adjust to. However, at an energy balance of around +5, it seems the net energy is about 80%. I don't see this as being fatal, although it is unlikely that a majority of energy could be produced at levels much below 10.

So the two relevant questions seem to be:

  1. Can mankind develop a sustainable energy production system with an EROEI of above 8-10?
  2. Can mankind live on this level of energy.

The jury is still out on whether we can do this and how severe the impacts of the transition will be. It doesn't provide much assurance to either a doomer or cornucopian viewpoint. It does seem clear that the issues you and Cry Wolf are drawing our attention to are among the most important facing us.
our task is to move the renewable blue boxes upward, using technology and the depleting blue boxes, while gradually moving the red boxes downward

Nate, I think this is the diagram that Cutler said he didn't fully understand at ASPO.  And I'm not sure what it means either - if anything.  I suspect the proximity of spatial area of current fuel sources with our urban / industrial infrastructure may just be a coincidence.  Like wise, is it really a problem that renewable energy sources are spatially "less dense" at point of harvesting?

Having said that, it is worth noting the position of Hydro - is that the size of the lake or the catchment area that is plotted.  One thing for sure, we couldn't power ourselves just on Hydro in the UK - just not enough height and gradient.

WRT to wind (shoot me now) I guess the question is how many turbines do you need - and what area would be required to host these - is there enough space? Certainly should be if the off shore is used.  But I know that there is problem in west Denmark with the intrusion of turbines.

In terms of upgrading wind power (shoot me again) I see that as strategies for delivering a stable grid - balancing and storage - and we need expert electrical engineering input to answer that.

Reactive power is not a major problem.  Intermittency is, but it's solvable with a host of solutions, not least of which is geographical dispersion and interconnection of grids.  We should keep in mind how early we are in the development of wind, and how small and isolated are some of the grids that use wind:  Denmark isn't even interconnected between the eastern part of the country (where the wind is) and the west!!  We should also remember how much better is the wind resource in the US and UK compared to Europe: capacity factors are very low in Denmark and Germany, but they make it work anyway because they're really determined.  Nevertheless, when German system operators complain, that's why.

We should remember the very low cost of pumped storage: only .6 cents per kwhr.  Why wasn't this used before? Because natural gas was so cheap, and worked so well for handling intermittent/peak loads.  Nat gas has only been recognized as expensive and limited for a very, very short time.

Anyway, here is some real data.  From the IEA:

From an actual electrical engineering journal (requires registration):

a serious study in Ireland:

and from a technical working group of actual power engineers:

It was all good after I figured out that clever double Y-axis.

Re: The disadvantage of wind is intermittency and the relatively "low energy density" of the electricity that is produced

Yes, people on my ASPO-USA thread were arguing about this but I'm not sure I fully understand "low energy density" for wind. It's generating electricity, right? feeding power into the grid? What's the deal?

I want to learn more here.

Dave, thanks for showing some interest in this vital topic about saving planet Earth. Here's a picture taken at the Centrica operated Glens of Foundland wind farm about 30 miles north of where I stay.  I guess for some reason Centrica got talked out of a solar array and got tricked into deploying windmills.

Imagine the wind is the size of the picture frame - in fact its really much bigger than that.  These little wind mills only capture a tiny fraction of the energy available.

Compare that with Hydro - where the glacially sculpted land surface captures most of the water and diverts it, through gravity, into streams, rivers and eventually a water fall where man can capture lots of the solar energy.  The Sun evaporates the water, and gravity (which no one really fully understands yet) concetrates all that water into one point where man can convert it to energy.  Even better than that, by building a dam he can release that energy when he needs to use it.

Wind is a bit different.  In its primary form it is very diffuse and man can only capture a tiny amount of all the energy that is available.  What's more, the wind doesn't always blow when man wants it to - so he needs to devise ways of storing or controlling this energy resource - which in some other respects is free.

Electricity, is the way that man utilises wind, hydro and many fossil energy resources.  The fossil energy resources are very concentrated, but in converting  them to electricity, man actually dilutes that concentraion of energy significantly - the compensation here is that the energy is in a very user friendly format - ready to use - when you want to use it.

The problem with wind, is that it is dilute and not always there - and storing the electricity in a battery it is diluted - eg 100 mile range for an electric car with a big battery comapred with 400 - 500 miles for a gasoline car with a small tank.

The main point is that with a high ERoEI >> 15, wind may provide an energy bounty, and some of the energy it produces may be used to solve some of these low density, intermitency problems.

As for the double Y axis chart - we live in a multi dimensional universe - so more of those to come.


I am not entirely anti hydro, but I don't see how we can be so flippant about the destruction of vast tracts of river bottoms, ruined fisheries and habitats, all for the sake of giving us more power. In my mind it's not much better than the permanent destruction reaped by current coal mining in W. Va. The river valleys are gone forever, good for nothing but being a big box to store our greed for power. And as the waters receed annually, there is an ugly, dirty, dusty or muddy bathtub ring that even leaves the lake largely inaccesible.

If they are necessary, they are a sad necessity, and shouldn't be viewed in such embellished, glorifying terms in my opinion.

I guess I do feel differently about the systems that just divert water through a generator along the stream, however.

Distributed PV and wind are far better and less destructive than dams in my opinion. All of our annual electrical needs are currently being served by 18 modest-sized panels on our suburban roof - no maintenance, good for decades. What's wrong with that?

Re: thanks for showing some interest in this vital topic about saving planet Earth

It's not Earth we're worried about. The Earth will be OK in a couple million years after we're gone and done trashing it. It's our sorry asses we need to worry about and whatever vital animals & plants might be saved. But I digress.

Re: it is diluted ... and intermittent

Yes, I understand all that. Now, consider these quotes on my ASPO-USA thread..

From here:

On the subject of WIND there seems to be a lot of misconceptions about this subject.

IT CAN NOT BE INTERGRATED SUCCESFULLY in to large power grids because of the physical nature of electricity and there is plenty of evidence of this published by electrical power engineers. I intend to offer a post on this subject shortly as well as nuclear reactors.

And from here:
Well, glad to hear that what the Danes and Germans have been doing (with admitted challenges) is simply illusory, according to the evidence published by electrical power engineers. And some statistics published by German power companies 'proving' how ineffective wind actually is seem at times to prove just how stubborn some people cling to their own perspective of what is in their own interests - even though the power companies pass on the increased cost of the wind power they must buy, they would prefer to own the entire system, as proven by the sham that is German energy market 'opening.'

The challenges of wind should not be denied, but they are just that, challenges....

And from here:
Wind energy can integrate well with high storage capacity for the produced wind electricity in the form of dispatchable hydro. The Northern European wind energy integrates beautifully with the abundant hydro in particularly Sweden but other Scandinavian states.
So, this whole subject seems more complex than I had imagined, I am embarrassed to say.

Somebody needs to post on the "Challenges of Wind" as it gets integrated into the electrical power grid.

All of the talk that wind and solar energy do not integrate well into the power grid is total bullshit, of course.

For one thing we could easily capture GWs of power with water electrolysis and create hydrogen for storage... IF we just had them. The only thing that happens there is that we take a huge efficiency loss. And still the overall efficiency would stay quite good, especially if that hydrogen becomes part of the transportation fuel cycle.

In any case, the power grid, if designed properly for peak loads will not go down. To build a power grid that can shift twice the amount of power around than it does today will require investments, of course. The power companies will need to be re-imbursed for those moneys and we will see them shift their business model from producers of power to transmitters of power.

No problem here. Except that one has to think a bit more on the system and a little bit less on the circuit level.


Re: For one thing we could easily capture GWs of power with water electrolysis and create hydrogen for storage ... IF we just had them

That's a really big IF, isn't it? How do think hydrogen is created? Doesn't it usually involve one of those fossil fuel words?

Re: No problem here. Except that one has to think a bit more on the system and a little bit less on the circuit level

So, do your feet ever actually touch the ground -- which is where the rest of us live? Or do you just float around above the Earth?

InfinitePossibilities? The only infinite possibility I see here is the ability of human beings to screw up. And, you did not even remotely begin to address my questions about integrating wind into the power grid.

I think what hes saying is that there is no need to develop fancy underground compressed air storage systems, or pump water up to a mountain top to be used on a 'rainy day' so to speak.  Instead, channel all that 'excessive energy' that the grid cant take and produce hydrogen from it.  Hydrogen, just like all FF's, is simply an energy carrier.  There has been a remarkable number of 'breakthroughs' dealing with hydrogen storage in recent years.

The synergies are fairly outstanding!

Clearly, you could use the electricity from wind to make hydrogen through electrolysis. But there is no infrastructure in place for using the hydrogen as an energy carrier -- none whatsoever.

So, when somebody tells me to think at the "systems" level and not the "circuit level", I view that as some sort of fantasy. For example, when I flip the switch to turn on one of those energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, I have a definite interest in whether it will actually come on. If that's thinking at the "circuit" level, then I am guilty.

Assume we have a hydrogen can-opener...

I think you are forgetting one thing:  In most cases, there is no infrastructure to store compressed air on a commercial scale to power wind farms when the wind isn't blowing, or a significant quantity of candidate sites for water pump/storage for the same benefit.  In order for the wind/solar economy to truly be viable, we have to develop the systems that let us store this energy to even the loads out.  If we don't do so, we will be stuck with always having to have a 'base line' of power derived from coal, NG or nuclear to meet our needs!

So that leads us with a few possibilities:  Spend trillions on storage systems such as:  depleted NG caverns for compressed air.  Huge water pump storages on mountain tops.  A massive scale up in commercial battery sites, such as flow batteries.  A fleet of EVs and PEHVs that all use V2G setups.  Or channel our excess energy production into hydrogen/ammonia generation/storage.  Choose your poison.  You have to use some of these set ups to avoid becoming a renewable 'export' country :P

The US has (roughly) 10 GW of pumped storage on-line today.  More can be added.  HV DC can connect wind sites, load centers (i.e. cities) and pumped storage over 1,000+ mile distances.

Doable and affordable IMHO.


The problem, as plenty at TOD always point out, is that like oil/ng prospecting, all the good sites for renewable storage sites are used up first.  There will obviously come a point where there simply isn't enough in the ground storage setups, which will causes us to look elsewhere in the long term.

But please, don't get me wrong!  I love alternatives including wind/solar.  I simply think people are looking in the situation with one eye not only covered, but sowed up, locked up behind a bullet proof eye patch, which is then stapled to their heads.  Just as we will need a basket of renewables to replace oil, we will need a basket of storage systems to make it viable.

Oh, and we have an infrastructure for hydrogen...we make fertilizer out of it :P

We have not seriously looked at developing pumped storage sites in North America.  Perhaps a dozen over 0.1GW.

Three more could have been built at the 2 GW Raccoon Mountain site.  They picked one end of the ridge because it was closer to existing transmission lines and land acquistion would be easier.

The Upper Penisula of Michigan can site massive pumped storage (close to Dakota & Manitoba wind and Manitoba hydro).

Ozarks have potential, etc. etc. etc.


I have no doubt that there exists a fairly significant amount of storage sites.  The question is, is there enough areas to allow us to completely depend/rely on these caverns for the 'rainy days'.  Still, I look at the future world from the viewpoint that most vehicles will be electric/pehv/cats.  In the first 2 cases, we will be able to satisfy a fairly large chunk of our storage problems using infrastructure that will already be built.  It seems smarter to me to use what we already have, not build what we don't need.
Cats ?  From personal experience, I would recommend against riding cats :-P

An unfamilar term outside felines to me.

I see a need for more pumped storage in almost any scenario so I disagree with "build what we don't need".

And "will already be built" in the future ?

I assume you are talking about Vehicle to Grid using EV batteries.  I think that is likely a bad idea since cycling chemical batteries shortens their life.  VERY expensive battery storage.

And American consumer behavior is hard to predict (see recent auto sales).  I expect many to recharge during evening peak demand (dinner time).  So more grid capacity required.


Not so fast!

Take a look at THESE BATTERIES

BTW, a CAT is a Compressed Air Transportation device, or a CAT car

Altair Nanotechnologies  (nasdaq: ALTI -  news  -  people )--up over 10% from this time last year--was once a poster child for putting nanohype over substance. Consequently, it didn't figure highly in 2004, when we last published our Scorecard. At the time, the company changed names like the wind, from Altair Technologies to Altair International Gold to Altair Nanotechnologies: Whatever sector seemed to be hot, there would be Altair.
Hype only company (Altair Gold ??) with week old "breakthrough" report.  And we are to base our future on new nanotechnologies ?!?

You need to check the crediability of your sources of information !

Even if 3M or GE announced the same "breakthrough" I would expect 12 to 15 years till mass production capable of replaceing half of US fleet.

No Hope for BS,


Well, there have been several different reputable companies that made similar 'breakthroughs'.  Look at some of my previous posts for links.  Time will tell though :P
"Even if 3M or GE announced the same "breakthrough" I would expect 12 to 15 years till mass production capable of replaceing half of US fleet."

Alan, that's with a "business as usual" approach.  In WWII we ramped to 100,000 planes in about 2 years.

"business as usual" won't implement anything at lightning speed: neither rail nor EV's.

Also, keep in mind that we don't have to replace half the fleet to cut half the fuel consumption: probably the newest 40% of vehicles get 60% of the miles, and 40% of vehicles is only 5 years production.  Ramping up production is the variable, and that simply depends on the priority it gets: it could be done in 2 years on a war basis, and 5 on a normal commercial high-priority basis (say, $180 oil).

In twenty years, the US built subways in it's largest cities and streetcar line or lines in 500 cities & towns, some as small as 18,000 population.

They did this without advanced technology, just "coal, mules & sweat" and 3% of today's GNP.  And it was done as a commercial boom.

You underestimate the time required to implement from benchtop prototype breakthrough of, say, a carbon nanotechnology battery to millions/year production.  WW II production did not use major breakthroughs in technology (except 3 hand made A bombs) and there is a learning curve with new technologies that simply takes time.

There is simply no humanly possible way to expect a novel technology to go from benchtop breakthrough to million + large scale production in 24 months.

Durability testing, for example, simply takes time.

Wind turbines have been steadily improving for 20+ years and are on the verge of being ready for the "big time".  But the first large offshore wind farm (2 MW WTs by Vestas) had to pull EVERY WT back for rework & re-engineer (from memory).

Best Hopes,


"In twenty years, the US built subways in it's largest cities and streetcar line or lines in 500 cities & towns, some as small as 18,000 population."

hmmm.  If your point is that rail could make an enormous difference in 20 years, I agree.  I would guess that a large rail project would take at minimum 15 years from conception to completion, and perhaps 12 years from drawings to completion - does that sound roughly right?

"There is simply no humanly possible way to expect a novel technology to go from benchtop breakthrough to million + large scale production in 24 months."

That's not what I was suggesting.  I believe that existing technology is sufficient, if necessary.  That's what the Tesla uses.  They plan to incorporate incremental battery improvements as they are proven. EV's are much simpler than ICE vehicles - only the batteries and power electronics are challenges, and they've gotten good enough.

OTOH, I would point to two things: first, there are a number of improved battery technologies which, while not proven, have a very high likelihood of success very, very soon. One of the most intriguing is Firefly, which is a spinoff of Caterpillar, and very credible.  They expect to be in large-scale production in 2007.  Probably the most important is A123systems, which is in production now for Dewalt powertools - it's here now, though it's optimized for powertool use (high power) rather than EV use (high energy density).  They're working on an EV version now.

2nd, while benchtop to factory floor would be very difficult to do in 2 years, it can be done in 4, and was by A123systems - see:
The guys in the aisle at Home Depot don't know it. But that $800 DeWalt cordless power-tool set - the one they really want for Christmas, but are just too scared to ask for - gets its butt-kicking oomph from a Nature Materials paper published only four years ago. It's taken that time for a battery cathode based on phosphate nanocrystals to rip its way from a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, through financing, design, development and manufacture in east Asia, to its current position, driving 36-volt power tools from Black & Decker - owner of the DeWalt professional-grade marque. (registration required)  

I'm confident that this could be reduced somewhat, if it was sufficiently high priority.  

Anyway, it's a somewhat moot question: we don't need any lab breakthroughs at this point to go forward with an ambitious PHEV/EV program.

Does that make sense to you?

Time to complete for a major transit SYSTEM.

I talked to a planner for Washington DC Metro and he said the entire 103 miles (original, now 106 with more planned) could have been built efficiently (minimum cost) in 12 years.  Someone involved in actually building it said 15 years.

We have preliminary plans (most with dust) for 56 cities that I have identified.  I may post the list tomorrow.  We could start construction on those plans in 1 to 3 years (depending upon level of dust, etc.) and finish them in 1 to 12 years (2nd Avenue Subway in NYC, Red Line Subway to the Sea in LA, Miami 83 new miles of elevated "subway" would take longest).

I think that we could build MANY more GEMs and Priuses within a few years (ramp up production of existing design, including speciality components, in a few years).  New tech is much more iffy (wasn't A123 delayed almost a year ?).

I question the wisdom of EVs beyond GEM.  We need not only the direct savings but indirect savings of Urban Rail (via revised Urban form).

Best Hopes,


OK, I think we're seeing rail construction roughly the same way.  On other things, I'm not sure we're quite communicating. Are you're saying that you prefer rail because you prefer a revised Urban form?  

Would you agree with my analysis (posted to you elsewhere in more detail) that the difference in transportation energy needs between EV's and rail is negligible (90% reduction vs 87%)?

Are you saying that you like the Urban form for reasons other than transportation energy, like improved quality of life, reduced HVAC needs, etc?

You only looked at direct energy savings of Urban Rail (did not see your post).  The indirect savings are substantially larger than the direct savings.  

The gallons per capita in cities with good Urban Rail systems are much lower than can be explained by direct savings.  Ed Tennyson had a post recently that set the average at 159 gallons/capita annual delta.

Postal delivery can walk their route, police bicycle their beat, UPS can make 2 or 3 deliveries from one stop, go 2 blocks and make another, plumber puts far fewer miles on his van, etc.  People walk to stores, etc.

Urban Rail results in far greater savings that EVs.

Best Hopes,


BTW, suburbia was built to be biodegradeable.  No great loss and no need to rebuild it in place.

So Tennyson was saying that the indirect savings from rail equalled 169 gallons of gasoline per person per year?
oops, 159 gallons
Direct + indirect savings.  

Ed Tennyson has a LONG & distingushed history in transit.  Testified against GM on streetcar destruction trial (GM lost, fined $1,000), helped plan DC Metro, electrified Harrisburg to Philly commuter RR, his riderhsip estimates for DC Metro off by 3%, ran San Diego Trolley build (first modern light rail in US).


hmm.  US average consumption is about 500 gallons of gasoline per capita, so direct and indirect savings are about 1/3 of gasoline useage?
Ah, I found the post to which you are referring.  The reduction was from a national average of 589 to 430, or a 27% reduction.

So, rail gives a 27% reduction in gasoline consumption?

A US city with a good rail system will reform itself around that system and reduce per capita demand by about a 1/4th.

Miami has local funding (1/2 cent sales tax) to expand their 20 mile elevated "subway" to 103 miles.  90% of the current population will be within 3 miles, half within two miles.

Upon completion or a few years after, I would expect Miami gasoline demand to drop by 1/3rd to 1/2 relative to, say, Ft. Lauderdale.

In 2004, 15 of 23 construction cranes were within 3 blocks of a Metro station.  The mere announcement of expansion started a rush to reform the city around rail.  (In Dallas, they are building next to stations a couple of years before scheduled opening).

Do NOT underestimate the indirect savings from Urban Rail.  I use 6 gallons/month and walk or ride transit for many destinations.  This very walkable, pleasant and beautiful neighborhood exists because of the St. Charles streetcar.

Best Hopes,


"A US city with a good rail system will reform itself around that system and reduce per capita demand by about a 1/4th....Upon completion or a few years after, I would expect Miami gasoline demand to drop by 1/3rd to 1/2 relative to, say, Ft. Lauderdale."

The general rule appears to be a 1/4 reduction - why do you suggest 1/3 to 1/2 for Miami?

Miami will have a density of Urban rail rivaled only by NYC, SF (city not metro) and perhaps Boston.

A map at:

Dark Brown lines are scheduled post-2016 :-((

Today's population has 90% within 3 miles of a station and half within 2 miles.  This is Rapid Rail (subway, Heavy Rail), not Light Rail with fast average speeds, massive capacity, and potentially frequent service.

The climate & flat landscape is walking & bicycling friendly.  GEM EVs could work well once SUVs head towards extinction as another way to get to the stations.  Add some streetcar line feeders and neighborhood circulators AND massive condo/office/apartment construction within 3 or 4 blocks of stations AND higher fuel prices and I see a revolutionized city that is now strangling on congestion.

Miami has the potential to be the "best case" example in the US.

Best Hopes :-)


So, rail has the potential to reduce gasoline useage by 25-50%.

Well, given that we can expect to have plenty of renewable electricity; that EV's would only add about 6-10% to the load on the grid to handle the rest; and that EV's are only slightly more expensive than ICE's; then, the sensible thing would be to use EV's for the other 50-75%, no?

Walking, bicycling, streetcars and electric trolley buses would be better options with a majority of households without even an EV (they take up space and make everything further apart).

We are a LONG way from "plenty of renewable electricity".  Better to emphasize the higher efficiency uses.

One should also ask the question, how can the US of ~2035 function well with ~400 million people and 7 million barrels of oil per day (very little for transportation including services) ?  And dramatically reduce GW GHGs ?

A revised urban form is the only way that I can see that happening.  GEM EVs can support a better urban form (unattractive on a 19 mile daily commute, but great for a couple of miles), but bigger & better EVs can slow the needed transformation.

Thus I am agnostic about EVs.  They should be, at most, a secondary emphasis IMHO.

These posts are getting



I can understand why you prefer rail to EV's for quality of life.  I agree. But....

If we go to renewable electricity in 2035, and we have enough, what's wrong with EV's on an energy basis??  They certainly eliminate oil useage, right?

You have said in the past that you feel that an all-renewable grid is possible, and at a price point that's affordable.  So, what's wrong with EV's from an energy point of view?

I feel like we're not quite communicating here....

I will post an answer tomorrow at the bottom of this thread.  This is now too narrow to post on.

best hopes,


I have submitted an article to TOD instead of replying on a dead thread.

Best Hopes,


Please note that gas consumption/capita in Ft. Lauderdale will likely drop due to higher gas prices shifting to higher efficiency vehicles (Prius is the new Hummer ?), people moving closer to work, less "pleasure driving" and so forth.  Same in Miami.  Dolphins fans from Miami will leave their Prius at home and take Metro to the stadium, Ft. L fans drive their Prius to the game.

Thus I use the Ft. Lauderdale: Miami ratio as a metric.  Ft.L gas consumption drops, Miami gas consumption can drop off a clift.

Best Hopes,


Washington DC gasoline consumption fell from the "non-rail" norm towards the "rail city" norm as new DC Metro lines opened and older lines matured.  Ed T monitored this and posted this a few years ago.
Dave, I think the idea here is to use hydrogen at a central generation station.

The challenges (i.e. infrastructure) for hydrogen use in transportation are much, much greater than for centralized use for power storage - not that I think hydrogen is the best way, but it is feasible.

I recently read a report by Canadian utility operators that they recommended not exceeding 10% wind on the grid due to issues with load balancing and reliability. So without large scale storage it may be difficult to exceed that 10% level. Just some thoughts from a rookie at this topic.
Thanks for all your work.
Right. That's what I'm looking for. Link?

I am sorry I did not get back to your request for the link on my comment on the Load Balancing issue in Canada with Wind Power. I read the material in the paper while on my 30th wedding anniversary trip (forgot to tear it out). However, I did find a document that makes some similar observations on wind and the need to set aside hydro capacity to balance load fluctuations that arise from wind power. This of course would remove some of the base load hydro from that roll when functioning in a load leveling capacity. I will try to find a specific response to the 10% number I read in the original article.
2734_web_doc_wind_eng.pdf (application/pdf Object)
For a hydro operator, wind is "hamburger helper" for existing hydropower.  It can significantly stretch and extend the water stored.

Best Hopes,


Dave here is one further source that helps explain the complex issue of load balancing or following from BPA. It is clear that as any intermittent power supply increases in its percent of the grid the issues of load following will grow.

"Because wind's effects on the BPA system are small and roughly symmetrical, there is
no simple answer to the question: how much capacity should BPA set aside day-ahead to allow
for uncertainties in the real-time output of wind farms. Answering this question is difficult for
several reasons."
Wind_Integration_Study_09-2002.pdf (application/pdf Object)

I had a lengthy (2+ hour) discussion with the VP of Planning & New Porjects at an Alberta utility.  His concerns about wind % focused more on unknowns (due to lack of operational experience) and lack of transmission capacity.

There may be another constraint on wind, the rate with which it can grow may be constrained by the experience required for grid operators to be comfortable.

For example, Grid XY may be capable of 38% of energy coming from wind "as is", but wind cannot grow more than 2%/year after reaching 10% due to operator conserns.

There are rates of growth for wind that may be required for PO & GW, but cannot be supported by the human "software" !

Best Hopes,


I think one aspect of these discussions that are mismatched is the differences between the two needs.

  1. Providing a solution for the Grid, ie Large Scale Centralized power generation and metering it out to people.

  2. Independant energy solutions for small scale.  ie Individual home owners, small groups of home owners, or a villiage/community solution.

These are two VERY VERY different approaches to the Energy problem.

Most of the discussions revolves around "How do we keep the LARGE Scale, Centrally distributed (ultimately big business owned/operated/ and profitted),  Life like we currently live it"

Like Large scale windfarms,  Large Scale distribution.

I don't know if that is the best way to go as a civilization.  

If we are at a major fork in the road, We should chose something scaleable.  If we have perpetual growth in population we lose no matter what course we chose.

But,  I am focusing on the "Individual home owners, small groups of home owners, or a villiage/community solution."

The more independant(and energy conservative) individuals and communities are,  the less drag on the "Grid" and large distibution systems there will be for the Major Cities to draw from.  (large cities are toast anyway in my view).

When you start a thread, which problem are you addressing,

  1. Large scale, grid type solution
  2. Small scale, independant solution

This is where much confusion lies here at TOD and other places.  A person addressing #1 arguing with someone addressing #2.

John Carr

      I will post something on this subject, but I have simply not had time and want to provide good explanations as well as references to back the facts up. In brief, main base power stations are required to generate continuous electrical power.
      2  They must keep the system balanced to stop frequency drift.
      3. To provide voltage control which is necessary due to impedances of branches. When a current flows through a branch, the branch impedance causes a voltage difference to occur between both ends of the branch. These voltages are not the same everywhere and it is important that node voltages don't exceed the maximum. They are mainly affected by reactive power, which wind and other intermittent sources in most instances can not provide. Reactive power can be controlled by changing the current in the rotor winding and is done through the exciter.
      4  They must be able to supply a fault current. When a short circuit occurs the output current of synchronous generators increases substantially and can easliy damage equipment.
      Intermittent power sources can't do some of these things and most people have no idea of the importance of the control of reactive power in a system of power grids.  I never see the term mentioned here because 99% of people don't even know what it is..
      Interuptions to grids in modern economies causes enormous problems when voltages, frequencies and phases are out of balance which can occur connecting supplies from differing generators. I would like to give you a fuller explanation when I get time as I have operated AC electricial systems which used reactive power to balance the power output of synchronous generators and hence the load.
Down under - PLEASE do a guest post describing these issues - because you are right, 99% of us here do not understand these issues.

I have had a lot of discussion with Alan from Bigeasy about balancing wind with a variety of other sources - which seemed quite straight forward.

What we are talking about here is upgrading the energy quality from wind so it can be used - and it is really high time that this issue got settled once and for all.

See my long summary at foot thread.


Look, I will but I haven't wanted to go off half cocked,and not back up what I am saying.I will use the references of a number of Professors or experts in Electrical Engineering two of whom have much experience in wind turbine outputs. I am not against wind or solar or anything else but some of these power sources cause problems, for instance 10% may be the maximum. Last year the Irish and South Australian electricity boards announced that under no circumstances would that let more than 10% wind or any other intermittent supply connect to the grid because of stability problems. Please read the 2004 and 2005 wind reports of E.on Netz the big German Grid operator. There is also a very good report by the Federal German Energy Agency on this whole subject which I will find a link for.
            Reactive power occurs when the voltage and current don't go up and down together in the AC frequency cycle, i.e. when the current and voltage are out of phase with each other by 90 degrees and is measured as VARs (voltage,amps reactive), it is used to control voltage and balance generator output by travelling back to the generator and through the windings of the excitation fields and travels back in the circuit in opposition to active power. Often wind generators can't provide this reactive power or are too far away to be effective.It is a strange concept to get your head around and is sometime called phantom power. Google "Reactive Power" for better explanations than mine
            Probably what's needed is an explanation of why AC was first used over DC, it can produce far more power(over 100,000 volts) for a given generator size because of the use of three phases and the ease of taking off power from a fixed armature with a rotating field rather than a DC generator with a rotating armature with the output collected from the rotating commutator.
             I will contact you by email shortly. I am not an electrical engineer and in fact have only a very basic understanding of electrical systems which are more complex than most people realize. I was first exposed to the complexities of reactive power, phase balancing, voltage and frequency controls etc when I converted onto B727 aircraft many years ago and have had to go back to the books to refresh my memory.
             I simply haven't had the time to do a good post on this with the necessary references and make sure that what I am saying is correct.
I have heard from people involved in netmetering, in both California and Thailand, that the grid operator's view of technical issues is often influenced by non-technical factors.

In both cases grid operators insisted that connecting small external generators would destroy the stability of the grid.  The reality was that it is easier, and possibly more profitable, for them to have monopoly control over the grid and that their life is much easier without all those pesky small generators.

Once regulations were passed that forced them to accept small generators, they had no choice and made it work. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar wasn't at work here. Grid operators have always done it the old way and have no incentive to take risks and make changes. Allowing wind into the grid is all risk and no gain to them. However, it is a small risk and huge gain to society.

In the case of netmetering, the grid operators were reminded there were more important interests at work than them having easy jobs. And now the electricity delivered to the grid by small generators is far greater than the levels that the engineers said would bring the whole system to a halt.  

I am just bringing this up as an example and to show that the various interests involved in the discussion each have their biases. I do not know if this is the case here, only that the similarities are remarkable.

Ah, SWR!

Lessons In Electric Circuits -- Volume II
Copyright (C) 2000-2006, Tony R. Kuphaldt

Chapter 11
Power in resistive and reactive AC circuits

Power Systems Engineering Research Center
What is Reactive Power?
Peter W. Sauer, Dept. Electrical and Computer Engineering
Univ. Illinois

Regulatory and economic issues:
Federal Energy Regulatory System
Principles for Efficient and Reliable Reactive Power Supply and Consumption
Staff Report * Docket No. AD05-1-000 * February 4, 2005 (warning - 177 pages!)

--... ...--  ;-)

     Four very good links there. I have read the one by Peter Sauer. The last link on page 7 has a good insight to part of the problem
Thanks DU - will look forward to hearing from you.


Down under,

It sounds like you are an electrical engineer.  I feel as though I am going round and round in circles concerning renewables and grid stability and I think that TOD would benefit from a well informed guest post on this subject.

Currently I have settled on the view that renewables may be balanced against hydro and coal and that a variety of storage strategies such as pumped hydro and batteries may help deliver a stable grid.

So is this a fantasy of renewables enthusiasts (I'm neutral on this) or can it really be made to work with investment and incetivised utilities?

My email is in my contact details - so please get in touch if you are interested in this.


Hydro turbines are "often" spun in air (a small energy loss) as a source of reactive power.  The multi-pole (10 to 32+) hydro generators with large mechanical inertia are superb sources of reactive power (much better than 2 pole gas & coal turbines & 4 pole nukes).

Recent advances in wind turbines are starting to add limited reactive power and I need to confirm that modern DC conversion does as well (heard that it did but need harder data).

For WTs, adding reactive power adds some cost & complexity and there is currently limited demand for it.

I have some concerns in the UK (which Hz varies instead of V vary as most of US (except Texas) does) is when the grid slows Hz from 50 to 49.85 Hz (example) that the WTs also have to slow down their rotations "at the end of the line".

Proper control systems can be installed, but are they retrofitted to older WTs and new "cost driven" WTs ?

A "small" detail, but a concern of mine.

Best Hopes,


I believe the biggest problem we have is not energy creation(stay with me, we waste too much as a given),  but STORAGE of energy is still in it's infancy.  

What do we have to store the energy from wind when we produce on a particular day more than we need?

If a home owner has a microhydro, windturbine, PV,  What does she/he do with the excess when they have it?  About all we have is the lead acid battery that Ben Franklin even had.  

IF we had made advances in STORAGE of energy in the same scale that we have seen in other industries, (Computer chip for example),  I would be home free as a home owner generating my own.  

Giving it back to the grid to me is not a storage device.  

Being involved in the home energy generation field,  what you commonly hear is "Dumping it to Ground" or "Heating your hot tub"  when your batteries are fully charged.

The advances that I have seen on this and other sites ( )  are still laboratory curiosities at the present time by and large.

Lead Acid is about the BEST that a personal home owner can get for storage.

John Carr

Community owned hydro pumped storage works well (a community of hundreds of 1000s to millions) via the grid.

Zero chemical disposal issues, lifetime of centuries, 81% cycle efficiency, reasonable unit costs.

Sorry if you do not like the grid, but there are good economic & engineering reasons for it's universal use.

Best Hopes,



Good post.  A few thoughts.  First, if you look at Professor Cleveland's E-ROI chart, you'll see that the 15-20 E-ROI for wind is for older, smaller models.  WInd E-ROI for more typical current models of 1 to 1.6 MW would be more in the range of 30-50.

2nd, wind power is distributed and could be considered "low density", but the electricity it produces is extremely high density.  Once wind power is captured and converted to electricity, all density concerns go away.  All you're left with is the intermittency problem.

3rd, I agree that some of the concerns about windpower have related to a system in which all windpower must be used, even if not needed.  This has contributed to grid stability concerns in Europe, I believe because of the need for payment to wind producers.  If you're not worried about wasting a small % of wind power that's not needed at times of peak production then wind becomes much easier to manage.  This approach helps with intermittency problems as well: if you overbuild your wind capacity somewhat, you reduce the % of time that wind will underproduce at the relatively small cost of some unneeded/low value electricity production (that could be used for something, like night-time EV charging).

Finally, it's interesting to note that on your chart there is very little difference between an E-ROI of 10 and something higher: once you get to around 10, higher values don't really matter much, it's simply good enough.

Nick - I've been told I got to go to bed now - so will respond more fully tomorrow.

In short, I'm always consevative in my acceptance of data - but am increasingy convinced of the merits of wind.  If it has an ERoEI anywhere over 20 - then I think any problems about delivery and storage can be solved.  Density in a cable at time of generation is one thing - storage for convenience use is another - and I think batteries are much lower density than gasoline.

Will come back tomorrow.


"batteries are much lower density than gasoline"

They are, but the difference has become not that great - just enough to be still slightly inconvenient.

The Tesla will have a range of 250 miles (which I think is adequate), with a weight penalty of 20% over the equivalent Lotus internal combustion engine (ICE) design. Give that the Tesla does 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, I think the weight isn't a problem.

Gasoline is about 5 kwhrs/lb, and li-ion batteries are about .07 kwhrs/lb, but this is very misleading.  First, (ICE) vehicles average only about 15% efficient in converting gasoline to kinetic energy (whereas electric vehicles with li-ion batteries are close to 90%), secondly electric cars have a much, much lighter drivetrain.  The net effect is the ability in the Tesla to carry adequate energy without an excessive weight penalty.

The real problem with batteries is cost.  Battery EV's still cost about $.20 per mile to operate, which is twice the average cost of ICE's.  That's not a big difference: it's only a 20% premium over the total cost of ownership of $.445 per mile (per the IRS), but it's still higher.  Of course, the maintenance costs of EV's are almost certainly lower than ICE's, but that's not yet proven.

Even if battery costs stayed the same they're cheap enough to be a feasible backstop to oil/ICE's if/when oil jumps dramatically in price.

OTOH, they are falling, so it's clear that sometime in the next 5 years the lines will cross, and BEV's will become cheaper.

We discussed the viability of EVs and PEHV's here.

The conclusion I came to, based on DoE figures are:

  1.  1 gallon of gasoline = 130.88 MJ stored energy
  2.  130.88 MJ stored energy = 36.35 kw/h equivalent
  3.  The average ICE only utilizes 12% of the stored energy content per gallon of gasoline
  4.  36.35 kw/h * 0.12 = 4.362 kw/h
  5.  EV engines are roughly 4x more efficient then ICEs
  6.  It requires 1/4th as much energy to power an electric motor compared to the average ICE
  7.  4.362 kw/h * 0.25 = 1.0905 kw/h
  8.  We consume roughly 360 million gallons of gasoline on average a day
  9.  360,000,000 * 1.0905 kw/h = 392.58 GW/h
  10.  392.58 GW/h / 12 = 32.715 GW/h required to charge a fleet of EVs over a 12 hour off peak time.
  11.  The US currently has about 1 TW/h peak capacity '1000 GW/h'
  12.  The US during off peak hours uses roughly 440 GW/h on average

If you follow these logical, mathematically simple calculations, you will come to the conclusion, just as I have, that powering a fleet of 200+ million EV cars 'replacing all ICE's the average consumer uses' will not prove to be a significant strain on our daily power consumption.  Furthermore, since 9.8 million bpd of oil is used just to make gasoline, we could effectively cut our consumption by 40-45%!!!

Now obviously, these EV's will require more power then that to be fully charged.  But this fact is easily amortized over ~10-20 years as it would take that much time for a full conversion of the US auto fleet.  Interestingly enough, a massive fleet of EVs could also serve as a viable and cost efficient storage system!  Utilizing V2G systems, we could actually reduce 'eliminate?' our dependence on NG peak power plants, further reducing our consumption of hydrocarbons.

V2G + EV's allow us to effectively achieve one of two outcomes:  moderating the power load throughout the day, letting us build more steady state power plants 'nukes'.  Or economically store excessive solar/wind power in a fleet of cars.

Now CATs, thats worthy of an entirely different write up :P

Yes I know, this is the UK outlet, so please pardon my usage of US consumption numbers/viability :)
But please use the internationally accepted units of energy kWh (kilo-watt-hours) not the incorrect kW/h. It keeps us engineering types on TOD happy :)
As much as I like your general approach, I think you are double counting the electrical efficiencies by using two separate factors of 4:1.

I came up with the original 57GW figure this way:

210M light vehicles x
12k miles/vehicle x
200whr/mile divided by
365 and 24 = 57GW

Wikipedia is using 300-500 whrs/mile, which is out of date: I think it's based on lead-acid, not li-ion. Li-ion has roughly 10% losses, instead of close to 50%, IIRC.

Still, clearly not a problem to do with wind, and just a little power/demand management.

I understand completely where you got your numbers from, and even talked about it on that thread.  The fact is, I pointed out that we are talking about future vehicles.  Even if battery technology improves, I seriously doubt we will be able to have super powered SUV's on the road.  And even if we do, each vehicle will have to be vastly more efficient then our current models.  With this in mind, I opted out of basing my calculations on miles driven, and instead based it on hydrocarbon consumption.

I'm hoping the future EV fleet has an efficiency of at least 30 mpg, versus todays 20.5 mpg!

OTOH, electric rail mass transit can get dramatically higher energy efficiency, both directly and indirectly through changes in the urban form. 20 to 1 gains are reasonably possible.  

Zero new technology needed.  No new designs required (although better designs could help in some cases).  At least 56 US cities with plans on the shelf.

A better path.


Alan, I don't think it's an either-or proposition.  There are some things that rail is better for, and some things that personal vehicles are better for.  I'd like to see the balance switch a fair amount to rail, but we need both.

The fact is that EV's and rail are in the same ballpark for energy consumption:  the most efficient form, heavy rail, uses 257 watt-hours/passenger mile (trolley and light rail average 370), while the Tesla uses about 180 (215 per vehicle mile divided by 1.2 passengers per vehicle), and the Prius about 190 (200-250 divided by 1.2).  So in terms of direct electricity consumption, EV's actually are more efficient.  Now, transit oriented development (TOD) might reduce miles travelled, but neither would be difficult for the grid to support - even if TOD reduced miles by 50%, we'd be talking about an increase for the grid of 9% for rail, and 13% for EV's: a neglible difference..

I agree that rail doesn't need new technology.  OTOH, EV's don't need anything new to be viable.  Now, it would be nice if EV's got cheaper and more convenient - that would make them able to beat ICE's rather than just be almost as good, but they are viable now. Improvement in batteries is almost certain to happen, but we don't have to count on it.

Rail and EV's have similar problems: Both are capital intensive, both have somewhat long lead times (I'd estimate about 10 years for EV's: 5 years production of vehicles would replace about 60%+ of fuel consumed - plus roughly 5 years to ramp up  production), and both are considered not quite as convenient as ICE personal transportation.

I support your advocacy of rail, but I'd tweak the message a little: we need much more rail, AND we need EV's (and plug-ins).  The funny thing is, I think you agree with that - I think you see your role as advocating for rail, while leaving the EV thing to others.  I think that's fine, but I think it would be helpful for you to keep EV's in mind and in your writings, so that people don't get the impression that EV's aren't viable - that will discourage people who don't understand rail, and those who do understand that personal vehicles really are quite useful and needed, in their proper place.

Does that make sense to you?

Well, you've got a point.  Undoubtedly EV's will get more efficient.  OTOH, a lot of people reading and participating in these forums come here after reading much more pessimistic material elsewhere, and I think it's helpful to be conservative in the assumptions we make, in order to reassure people that potential solutions are real.

In this case, EV's have all the efficiency they need with current technology, so there's probably no real need to explore the potential for improvement.  Really, the primary problem with EV's right now is battery cost - which still make EV operating costs a little bit higher than ICE's.   Of course, it would be nice to get really fast charging for convenience: that looks very likely, but it's not proven quite yet.

You have the unstated and invalid assumption that energy "at the wheel" is comparable for EVs and ICEs.

And you overlook battery weight, battery cycle losses as well as regenerative braking.


I've always been puzzled by energy density concerns for wind and PV:  both of them may be distributed over a large area, but neither of them typically "use up" the land they're on.

Wind may need 60 acres per MW, but the turbine itself only uses about 1/4 acre - the rest of the land is available for farming, or whatever.

Similarly, PV on roofs doesn't use up anything at all: the roof would be there anyway.  In fact, Building Integrated PV typically provides structural and insulation value.

PV will require 100,000 square miles of area. People hear that number and are shocked. It sounds huge. But it's not.

To produce the energy needed by an average US citizen (I say "needed" and not "comsumed" beacuse there us a huge difference) requires no more than 100 square yards of PV at current efficiency. It will require half that much two decades from now. That's the area of a roof.

To power an electric commuter car requires little more than the roof on the garage for the car.

PV on the roof on the building I work in could produce far more power than the people inside the building need for their work.

The roof of the mall I go to once in a while could produce MWs of electricity. Enough to power the neighbourhood it is in.

The roof of the parking garage next to my commuter train station could produce half a MW. Enough to power half the cars that are parked in it.

I think we need to educate people to get over large numbers and start counting roof areas. Make them look for sites suitable for a wind turbines. And when they see an uncovered roof or a hilltop, they should learn to think: now that is a wasted opportunity to make lots of energy.

And suddenly 100,000 sqare miles become small. Quite small, actually.

Yeah, absolutely.

"PV will require 100,000 square miles of area. "

That sounds about right for all energy use for the whole world (the US would need about 8,000 sq miles for just electrical generation).  The world has a lot of roof area....

It is a big world out there... 200 million square miles if I am not mistaken... we will need some .1% of it.
Nick, I'm not too worried about the energy density of the energy collected / collection sites either.  Hydro after all uses 100% of certain vallies.  It is the energy density of what is produced  - electricity for direct consumption - OK - but when you get into storage issues you have pretty low density energy at your disposal - comapred with coal, nuke and gas.

The real question is can balancing and storage strategies deliver a stable grid?  Opinions expressed here are contradictory - so I feel we need an objective expert to answer this question once and for all.

I will search for New Zealand grid report that stated that up to 35% wind was OK without further study or grid modification IF the wind was not clustered.  Not that 35% was the absolute limit for Kiwis. (NZ is half hydro).

I have not seen anyone contradicting that large amounts of hydro generation (pumped or storage hydro) enable large % wind generation.

I wish that you had been at the HydroVision conference presentation that started off with the comely barmaid presenting a cold, frothy, beer in an iced mug labeled "Hydro" and a flat, warm beer in a plastic cup on a metal bench labeled "Wind".  Both beer, but Hydro has the "extras' that wind needs (reactive power amongst them).  A mixture gives a cool, but not cold beer that is a bit flat but drinkable and served in a room temperature mug by a surly bartender.

The % hydro needed for 20+% wind penetration varies with, amongst other variables, transmission improvements.

Hope this helps.


Net Energy suffers from the (fatal?) flaw that excluding externalities improves your return. It also requires huge amounts of data and several assumptions.

I remain skeptical of wind. It has a role as does tidal.

Remember what Oxford Energy said:

In such circumstances, one obvious recourse is to look at the real world - ie, not at theoretical cost calculations, but at the actual prices paid for wind power. These numbers are significantly higher. The current UK system of support for renewables is based on obligations which are tradeable in the form of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs). The ultimate cost to the consumer is effectively capped at a premium which currently stands at a little over 3 p/kWh (in addition to the normal wholesale electricity price, recently around 3p) though in practice the cost of Certificates has often been higher. The total cost of offshore wind in the UK was calculated by the OIES at 8-8.5p/kWh2. Similarly the prices paid under Germany's support arrangements are much higher than the costs quoted by the SDC - the structure of support is complex but is equivalent to 4-5p/kWh or more for onshore wind and over 6p/kWh for offshore.

These figures are important because they represent the actual prices paid, ultimately by consumers.

But lets mention the N word: Nuclear.

We have ERoEI of 90 for Nuclear, it is baseload, proven mature technology with several enhancements available or in the pipeline, offering large increases in ERoEI.

1. ERoEI

2. Nuclear Waste:
Thorium Recators to burn actinides.

The closed fuel cycle can be tailored to the efficient burn up of plutonium and minor actinides

or if you prefer:

It can burn Plutonium waste from traditional nuclear reactors with additional energy output

And I should mention:

Just look at the safety record of the Nuclear Industry, and forget the LNT model, the 'No Threashold' in LNT is an invalid assumption.

Nuclear power stations can be built on cost, and are safe. Re: British energy, cheap gas also apparently bankrupt Coal power plants like Drax

Less than ten years after the privatisation of the electricity industry, the energy market has effectively gone bust.  [...]

British Energy has only been able to trade thanks to emergency loans from the government to give it time to organise a financial rescue and save it from administration.

Powergen, owned by E.ON of Germany, has shut down a quarter of its generating capacity.

UK Coal has halted supplies of coal to AES Drax, its main customer, because of unpaid bills. AES Drax is Britain's largest power station and the US corporation, AES, now owns it.

Nuclear power can be built and operated economicaly, the price floor is not a subsidy, but to avoid a repeat of the above, and insurance costs are not calculated on the real risks as 50 years of safe operation in the west have demonstrated.

I for one am happy to advocate Nuclear new build.


Advocate for the Devil (aka David Tomlinson).

This is my genuine position.

I see the less nuclear the better, but some will be required.

It is not as good as wind from a variety of perspectives.

Takes too long to build. (Wind 12 months from decision to build to operation for expansion of existing wind farm, 30 months for a new wind farm).  One cannot count on a nuke coming on-line within 8 years.

Nukes are can be shut down quite unpredictably by common design faults.  Nation X build 12 reactors to some common design.   A design fault is found in that design, all 12 GW goes off line for months or years till that fault is fixed.

Breeding is not economic (just ask any parent :-P

Nukes require long term social stability, an unwise assumption post-PO.

And much more.

Best Hopes for wind and pumped storage/hydro.



Why wreck the countryside with wind turbines when they are not going to do any good?
James Lovelock

We can build Nuclear plants in four years, just apply the same paranoia and opposition to wind farms and they would not be built in three. Hang on some people are!

Wind farms don't suffer from a cable failure or common faults ? No the wind just doesn't blow (A far more frequent occurance than faults taking down large numbers of nuclear plants). Nuclear technology is mature and much less likely to suffer the problems of the custom built plants of the past.

Maybe the faults don't require a shutdown or like metal fatigue, as not progressed to the same degree in all plants or the stagered build gives you time to repair the first built before tackling the last.

James Lovelock argues that wind patterns could change due to Global Warming, where would that leave you wind, white elephants ?

I haven't really advocated breeding :) like the French SuperPhenix or the Russian BN600, or India nad Japanise efforts etc, but Thorium breeders could be economic in their own right. Even if breeding it's self may not be economic, breading plutonium may be economic in the context of supplying fuel to non-breading reactors.

We don't have to breed just yet, Uranium, MOX ?

Such preseance, even if society collapses Nuclear power stations would be a resource worth protecting.

Futurism it says:

The greatest cost for thorium reactors remains their initial construction. If these reactors can be made to last hundreds of years instead of just 60, the cost per kWh comes down even further. If we could do this, then even if there were a disaster that brought down the entire industrial infrastructure, we could use our existing reactors with thorium fuel for energy until civilization restarts.

Much more, can't wait :)

Read James Lovelock's article from the Independant.

Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen. If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from overheating in Europe last summer.

Extract from book.,,1738946,00.html

We can build Nuclear plants in four years

You CANNOT reliably build a nuke in four years !  Even a Unit #2 built next to a twin cannot be reliably built in 4 years.  Just ask any US reactor construction site (expecially Babcock & Wilcox reactor owner) that had the second reactor under construction when Three Mile Island occurred.

You advocate standard design reactors and high % nuke generation.  This exposes the entire economy to a common design fault OR unsafe operation (the real world choice if the alternative is lights out and cold homes).

I chose my words carefully.  If one orders a nuke today, one cannot count upon it in commercial operation by 2015 (unless safety is ignored).  Perhaps it will be on-line by 2012, but the long history of nukes is rich in examples of VERY long, unplanned upon delays (I did not say unexpected, nuke = delay)

Wind may die down for a few days, but annual production is inherently stable.  GW will not revoke physics.  The Arctic Ocean will be colder than the Gulf of Mexico and there is nothing but a barbed wire fence between them.  Winds will blow between them till continential drift changes the equation.

Best Hopes for Wind, Hydro and Pumped Storage,


I forgot to mention improvements in process and efficency for Nuclear power (Enhanced ERoEI).

Laser enrichment processes have been the focus of interest for some time. They are a possible third-generation technology promising lower energy inputs, lower capital costs and lower tails assays, hence significant economic advantages. None of these processes is yet ready for commercial use, though one is well advanced.

In 2006 GE Energy entered a partnership to develop the process. It provides for GE to construct in the USA an engineering-scale test loop (3 years) then a pilot plant or lead cascade. A full commercial plant would then follow. Apart from US$ 20 million upfront and subsequent payments, the license agreement will yield 7-12% royalties, the precise amount depending on how low the cost of deploying the commercial technology. GE referred to SILEX as "game-changing technology" with a "very high likelihood" of success. The SILEX process is now at prototype stage with Silex Systems near Sydney. Applications to silicon and zirconium are also being developed.

The new fuel turned out even better than Hejzlar dared hope. It proved to be easy to manufacture and capable of boosting the power output of PWR plants by 50 percent.

The next step is to commercialize the fuel concept, which will include testing a limited number of rods filled with the new pellets in an operating reactor and examining the results to ensure the safety and performance of the new fuel.

The efficiency of PWRs and BWRs is limited to around 33 percent, because water can be heated to only a certain temperature and only a certain amount of heat can be taken out of water. If that limit were pushed higher, more heat could be extracted, and the plant would generate more energy at a lower cost.

This may soon be possible, thanks to Buongiorno.

His laboratory works on nanofluids -- base fluids such as water interspersed with tiny particles of oxides and metals only billionths of a meter in diameter. Buongiorno's nano-spiked water, transparent but somewhat murky, can remove up to two times more heat than ordinary water, making it an ideal substance for nuclear plants.

The nanoparticles "change some key properties of the way water behaves when it boils," Buongiorno said, improving its heat transfer capabilities.

So that is more than doubling in effciency and unspecified but game changing improvements in process. Of course they are not yet in Reactors, but the potentail is there for a much greater ERoEI than 90.

The devil has all the best tunes!

A summary response to much of the foregoing

First up thanks for all the input - though on the wind issue I feel as though I'm going round and round in circles here.

Some key points:

Environment v peak oil / gas

Wind and other "electric" renewables are really driven by environment concern.  There is no problem with generating as much electricity as we want from coal and nuclear for the foreseeable future.

So the question is do we want to live with (or die from) the environmental external consequences of coal and nuclear, and are we prepared to pay the price of using alternative sources of energy?

I have settled on the view that a global warming, climatic catastrophe may be unfolding and we are morally bound for the benefit of future generations to do what we can to mitigate CO2 emmissions.

So that leaves nuclear - and I could happily support this option - however, my local politicians are 100% set against this and are heavily committed to renewables, in particular wind, followed by wave and tidal (see picture up thread for assessemnt of solar potential).

What concerns me now, is that our politicians are committed to renewables but don't seem to understand that building a successful renewable grid requires a Hell of a lot more infrastructure than a few thousand wind mills.

So I have, for the time being, committed myself to a course exploring renewable options - to see if high penetration of renewables into a stable grid is possible - if the answer to this is no then I will fall back on the nuclear alternative.

I do not support the total power down, "relocalisation" alternative.

So where does Net Energy fit into this story?

Net Energy

There is a considrable range in Net Energy values published for wind.  The compilation published by Cutler Cleveland, however, has convinced me that modern wind turbines, located on a good site, has high Net Energy return.

So why is this important?  Some energy needs to be spent upgrading wind energy to a user friendly quality - the main issue being intermittency - so a variety of storage and energy balancing strategies need to be deployed - and doing this costs energy.  If wind started out with a low ERoEI of say 5 - then I would guess that energy spent upgrading quality would leave negligible Net Energy for society to use.  But if wind starts out with ERoEI of say 20, then we start out from a position of 2000% profit and we can afford to spend a fair amount upgrading the energy quality.

Strategies, economics and the utilities

Three main strategies may be deployed to make "wind work"

Power balancing with


Energy storage

Pump hydro

Smart consumption

Convert to supply driven consumption (as opposed to demand driven)

The main question is:

Theoretically can a combination of these strategies be made to work?

- i.e. deliver a stable grid. If the answer is no, never - then we have to fall back on the nuclear option.

If the answer is yes, but the untilities can't be bothered, then the system of incentives (tax breaks) and penalties (CO2 taxes) needs to be adjusted to force the utilities to comply.

Further up the thread DownUnder has made some detailed technical comments about the problems with renewables - what I want to know objectively, is whether these problems are impossibilities.  If the answer is yes, this is possible, then what needs to be done to make renewable energy work and what are the costs?

There is no problem with generating as much electricity as we want from coal and nuclear for the foreseeable future

I respectfully disagree.

If "everyone" decided upon the "French Solution" for power generation, significant resource issues would develop fairly rapidly, certainly during the second half of the reactors life and possibly in the first half.

These resource issues may, or may not be technically soluble.  It is almost certain that any such solutions, if they are economic, would not be widely implemented in a timely manner and "The Uranium Mine" blog would be talking about Peak U.

If Scotland alone went 90% nuke, no resource issues.

And coal is a large resource, but it cannot sustain current energy consumption levels PLUS growth PLUS coal-to-liquids for a significant fraction of reduced oil consumption.

The UK hit Peak Coal in 1913.  Downhill since, so Scotland would be talking about imports from Australia (or South Africa) both of which have their own resource limitations + energy shipping costs.

Wind has the potential, with further maturation that is foreseeable, to be cheaper than nuke power.

A heavy nuke power option will also require pumped storage.  Nukes cannot be easily modulated to follow the load.  France uses domestic & Swiss/Austrian hydro, Luxembourg pumped storage, and late night sales to Germany, UK, Spain, Benelux, Italy to keep it's nukes going all night.

A 90% nuke UK is just not workable IMHO.

Best Hopes,


Alan, up the thread, Down Under claims that there are serious grid problems with too much wind penetration.  I have listened to most of what you have to say but have no way of evaluating whether it may work in the real world or not.

If you are able to provide a detailed, electrical engineering based guest post on this then please get in touch with PG

I too disagree (29th and 31st October respectively).
I missed the bit about this been a wind only thread, and if you want to ignore inconvinient facts about wind, then you don't want a debate.

Professor Cleveland's data is weak at best.
The data is old and sparse, it appears to ignores external costs, like connection costs and associated storage. It conflicts with the view of the UK National grid and other studies (5:1 replacement factor), and the German study.

On the original thread not even Professor Cleveland supported the projections of some for 100% wind. I cannot believe the inadequacy of the green arguments, that get accepted without challenge.

I have quoted James Lovelocks views.

If you want a debate over the viability of renewables, then count me in (on the skeptics side). And I am willing to enter the debate the merits or otherwise of Nuclear.

You never know, I might have some political connections of my own (or might not). I am certainly up for open public debate.

As for Scotish Polotics see:

It's Scotland's Waste. Labour think they have scored a direct hit on the SNP's nuclear policy, and they may be right. But Jack McConnell may also have deepened Labour's own divisions over energy policy.

National Politics not relevent ?
From above:

McConnell is no lover of nuclear power, and favours developing Scotland's ample renewable energy sources. But many in the Labour Party are enthusiasts, not least the chancellor, Gordon Brown, who supports a new generation of nuclear stations. The trades union Amicus intends to make renewal a key issue at the forthcoming Labour conference in Oban. McConnell cannot remain silent indefinitely.

The unspoken subtext to the prime minister's call to arms over climate change, following the Stern report, is that we are going to have a lot more nuclear power stations. The prime minister has long believed that nuclear is the only viable replacement for fossil fuels, since things like wind and wave energy cannot maintain baseload electricity generation.

Not even just local politics.

Labour faces damaging rift over nuclear power
DOUGLAS FRASER, Scottish Political Editor     October 27 2006       

Jack McConnell faces defeat at his party's conference next month, as supporters of new nuclear power stations in Scotland press for a firm commitment to build them. Both sides of the debate within Labour say the pro-nuclear lobby has the votes to demand a shift to clear backing for replacement atomic plants.

It is understood that engineering trade union Amicus has tabled a motion for conference that would move official policy on from the one agreed earlier this year, which only included nuclear among a range of options for Scotland's future energy supply.

Cry Wolf (Euan Mearns)

Theoretically can a combination of these strategies be made to work?

They have to work practically and within a defined and tight timescale. I am willing to argue against them.

My proposed North American grid is 55% wind and 23% nuclear by energy source with substantial hydro (12%) and pumped storage (-19% +15%).  Balance other renewables with a modest fossil fuel backup for unusual events.

AFAIK, no one is seriously arguing 100% wind without major storage to balance it.

Best Hopes for Wind & Pumped Storage.


BTW, Pumped Storage plants have lifetimes of centuries.   Any EROEI needs to consider the permanent social & economic asset that they become. 100% nuke also needs massive pumped storage as well, so there is little delta between nuke & wind in storage requirements & additional transmission requirements.

They have to work practically and within a defined and tight timescale

The global resource is there and the wind resource is there for the UK to install 25 GW and perhaps 50 GW (nameplate) of wind turbines in the UK by 12-2013.  How much nuke can come on-line by then ?

Some new transmission lines are needed (including HV DC to Iceland, France and perhaps Norway), and more pumped storage as well would be good (0.5 GW today I think).  Doable by then.

Wind has timeliness as a virtue.  4 year new nukes in the UK are a pipe dream.

That said, UK does need some new nukes to replace retiring nukes, coal and depleting NG.  But nukes should be the trailing, long lead time, secondary support source of power and not the primary emphasis. (And no one design nuke should supply more than 7% or 8% of national power). Just too many problems !

Best Hopes,


A decision to build a new nuke plant in the UK next year would be completed between 2014 and 2022. Perhaps 2024. That is a reasonable time range with real world examples.

Wind is much better able to meet a "tight & defined time table".  So tight & defined timetaables is a STRONG argument against nukes.  They best serve as a long lead time, "whenever" power source that cannot be counted upon.

BTW, the word is that the new Finnish reactor is running into delays.

Dave, I am not qualified to judge issues of ERoEI for wind and grid stability. I understand that nuclear works and personally have no problem with this solution - but many of our ploiticians are dead set against it.

I am going to try and avoid any more debate about wind until we get an expert post of grid stability issues.